A tale of two parties’ “internal contradictions”

The imperial President of China flies in tomorrow. The Labour party anoints its new leader today. What links the two? Xi Jinping is China’s most powerful leader since at least Deng Xiaoping and maybe since Mao Zedong. He has centralised … Continue reading

Who will be first to the frontier of thought?

Early this year Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, introduced Bill English to G20 finance ministers as the man they should talk to learn how to do public service reform. Hockey could have added other English-driven changes, such as fiscal consolidation, pursuit … Continue reading

A part of the government gets more assertive

Topping the list of officials’ post-election briefings to incoming ministers (BIMs), is, for the first time, a BIG — a briefing to the whole incoming government by all chief executives (CEOs). But is it actually to the whole government? The … Continue reading

Security matters: Key’s ups and downs

John Key is both increasing and decreasing security. Which security matters more? The security Key is increasing — or aiming to — is about beheadings and bombings and a clash of civilisations and religions. The security Key is decreasing is … Continue reading

The gerrymanders and National’s 2017 constraints

Parliament is back in business with National in charge to a degree not seen since first-past-the-post “parliamentary dictatorship” days — thanks to three successful gerrymanders and one failed one. Two of the successful gerrymanders were National’s contrivances to get its … Continue reading

Investing, not spending. A tougher way of thinking

The day after the election John Key said child poverty was his third-term priority target. Next day Bill English laid down the law to public sector chiefs about using a targeted “investment approach” to ease this political discomfort. Investment, by … Continue reading

National’s super app: macro-personality Key

Labour has learnt — or should have learnt — that a new leader is not an automatic transit pass to the political uplands. But some leaders are uplands inhabitants whether or not their party is. How come? Labour’s poll average … Continue reading

Labour not “part of the communities we live in”

Labour leadership aspirant Grant Robertson told a blunt truism to Kathryn Ryan on Radio New Zealand the Monday after the election. “Politics has to be about more than elections,” he said. “It has to about being part of the communities … Continue reading

The strategic dimension to a third term

Government is always a balancing act. For this term the balance is between an urge in the National party for business-friendly action and staying in touch with the wider public. It doesn’t matter for that balancing act whether National keeps … Continue reading

The best result John Key could have got

John Key got his best result: a majority on his own or with young David Seymour if National’s vote drops on the special votes as much as the half per cent it dropped in 2011. He didn’t need the Conservatives … Continue reading